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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 8, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 15
Trans man files workplace discrimination suit against Whole Foods
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Trans man files workplace discrimination suit against Whole Foods

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A Transgender man in New York has filed a federal lawsuit against his former employer, Whole Foods, for violations of his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the U.S. Constitution.

Victor Alexander King worked at a Whole Foods store in Chelsea, in New York City, where, he charges, co-workers referred to him as 'she, her, or it.'

Supervisors refused to help him, King says in his suit, and also discriminated against him.

One supervisor, identified in court documents as Quadry Scott, told King, 'I know you are not a guy; I am not going to refer to you as a guy.'

King says he then complained to the Whole Foods human resources department, but company officials ignored him. Finally, he contacted the Ali Forney Center, a Manhattan-based center for homeless LGBTQ youth, which agreed to advocate on his behalf.

Only then did Whole Foods agree to send its employees to take antiharassment courses, King says. But the hostile work environment continued, and he was forced to quit his job at Whole Foods in March of this year.

Whole Foods spokesperson Michael Sinatra told the New York Daily News that the company had not yet reviewed King's lawsuit.

However, Sinatra said, 'As a company, we have long celebrated diversity and acceptance and have zero tolerance for discrimination. Our diverse and inclusive culture is reflected in our team member base, including our leadership, as well as in community partnerships here in New York City.'

Whole Foods is owned by controversial businessman John Mackey. A vegan and a pioneer of the natural foods movement, Mackey is also a libertarian who opposes labor unions - none of his Whole Foods employees are represented by unions - and government regulation of the food industry.

Mackey earned headlines in 2013 when he told NPR that the Affordable Care Act was not socialism but 'more like fascism.'

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